Ahoy there, Captain! Just what does κυβερνησεις mean?

I topped my post yesterday on Renewal and Reform with a few words from 1 Corinthians 12:28. On Facebook Ian Paul (aka Psephizo) rightly pointed out that the word I had quoted as administration was more literally ‘piloting’. So with holiday leisure I thought I’d follow the trail…

Actually the trail is quite short as this is the only use of the word in the New Testament. I had looked at my Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament where it gives ‘guidance, leadership’; and I had checked  the ESV (my current daily reading bible of choice) and Nicholas King (not always a literal translation but always enlightening). Both go along with administration. The Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the NT has ‘ability to lead’, and for the noun, ‘captain, navigator (doubtful meaning)’. NRSV has ‘forms of leadership’ and RSV ‘administrators’.

A Google search revealed this blog which carefully analyses the use of the word in the Septuagint and other classical literature and where the author prefers the translation ‘governance’ – which certainly has specific resonances for anyone involved in the British educational system.

In my post I used the words administration, management and leadership in particular, nuanced ways which may or may not be apparent to an English reader. Perhaps such nuances didn’t exist in St. Paul’s mind. Either way I quite like the image of captaining/piloting a ship and it makes a nice nautical change from sheep and shepherding.

Here are a couple of screen shots to complete the picture, I was fascinated to see the etymology of the Latin gubernare here which is where, of course, our governor has its origin:


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